July 8th, 2015

The other week I made a note to myself to watch out for a recent science fiction film called Advantageous, an expansion of a previous short of the same name.1 This morning I came across a copy of the original short film on YouTube, and it's really very good:

Now I'm definitely going to watch out for the feature length version.

  1. I found out about the film via a Mike D'Angelo review at The Dissolve. Sad news today that The Dissolve has ceased publishing. Dammit, not only did they have a host of excellent reviewers who produced readable, insightful reviews and a range of essays and news stories that catered for a wide range of interests, but they also put out a pretty decent podcast. At least as importantly, in the space of not quite two years they'd attracted the second-best community of commenters of any site I visit regularly, second only to the folks who make MetaFilter so good.

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November 28th, 2012

Dynamo, Episode 1: BIT 313-A [Alternative YouTube link]:

In which the Amazingly Bearded Man (ABM) wards off the Flesh Bats, and Ava makes bad decisions.

An ambitious, distinctly offbeat web-based science fiction series. It looks amazingly polished for something produced on a budget that probably wouldn't pay for a single day's catering service on Michael Bay's next Transformers movie.

It feels a bit like a cross between Max Headroom, Terry Gilliam and Twin Peaks. All of which are good things, to my mind. Four episodes in and I'm hooked.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Lip-Dub scrubbed

June 7th, 2012

Remember Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal that I linked to the other week? A huge feel-good moment, thanks to a cast of thousands singing along and dancing to a Bruno Mars track as they helped Isaac propose to his girlfriend Amy.

If you bookmarked the copy on YouTube then you'll find that it's disappeared, thanks to a copyright request. The scary thing, as Andy Baio has noticed, is that one of the organisations listed as being responsible for the video's removal is Scripps Local News. As far as he can see, all Scripps did was produce news shows which included a clip of Isaac and friends' original video in a news report on the story of Isaac's elaborate proposal. Trouble is, YouTube's content detection system apparently isn't clever enough to notice which came first.

As Andy Baio also points out, it's harder to dispute that Warner Music Group, whose artist Bruno Mars created the song to which Isaac was lip-synching, have a stronger claim to block the video. That's a different debate, though. The truly worrying issue here is that it looks as if YouTube's system effectively operates on the assumption that any major commercial media outlet must have some prior claim to content flagged as being a copy of/similar to someone's copyrighted content, regardless of the actual sequence of events.

Fortunately (for now) Isaac's video is still up on Vimeo, among other places.

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The word 'tangled' is far too polite

May 14th, 2012

Andy Baio has been looking into how difficult it is to post a cover song on YouTube and stay within the law:

We all break laws. Every day, millions of people jaywalk, download music, and drive above the speed limit. Some laws are obscure, others are inconvenient, and others are just fun to break.

There are millions of cover songs on YouTube, with around 12,000 new covers uploaded in the last 24 hours. Nearly 40,000 people covered "Rolling in the Deep," 11,000 took on "Pumped Up Kicks," 6,000 were inspired by "Somebody That I Used to Know."

Until recently, all but a sliver were illegal, considered infringement under current copyright law. Nearly all were non-commercial, created out of love by fans of the source material, with no negative impact on the market value of the original.

This is creativity criminalized, quite possibly the most popular creative act that's against the law. […]

Baio reports that YouTube negotiated a blanket license with the National Music Publishers Association last year that potentially covers the rights held by thousands of publishers. Unfortunately, as the NMPA doesn't publish a list of which publishers and songs are covered the existence of the agreement it is of no real help to an amateur musician who would like to protect themselves by ensuring that they stick to tracks covered by the agreement.1

Basically, a user has to decide if they're willing to upload their performance and risk losing their YouTube account if they're branded a copyright infringer once too often. Which is ridiculous, but (IMHO) not just the fault of the music industry. Presumably YouTube know which publishers and songs are covered by the NMPA agreement: once their software identifies an upload as a cover version, presumably it could flag up for the user that their track doesn't appear to be covered by the NMPA license and give them a chance to take it down immediately or confirm that they hold some form of license. But that would put YouTube in a position where they might share liability with the user if it turned out they didn't hold a license, so it's much better not to ask too closely about the tracks being uploaded, keep everyone in the dark and leave it all on the user if the publishers take exception to what's been uploaded.


  1. If they even know the agreement exists. Had you ever heard of it before Andy Baio mentioned it? I know I hadn't.

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Jittering and cheating

March 26th, 2012

Mike Solomon, one of YouTube's original engineers, has learned a great deal about scalability over the last seven years:

Jitter – Add Entropy Back into Your System
[…] Systems have a tendency to self synchronize as operations line up and try to destroy themselves. Fascinating to watch. You get slow disk system on one machine and everybody is waiting on a request so all of a sudden all these other requests on all these other machines are completely synchronized. This happens when you have many machines and you have many events. Each one actually removes entropy from the system so you have to add some back in.

Also (this one is my favourite)…

Cheating – Know How to Fake Data
[…] The fastest function call is the one that doesn't happen. When you have a monotonically increasing counter, like movie view counts or profile view counts, you could do a transaction every update. Or you could do a transaction every once in awhile and update by a random amount and as long as it changes from odd to even people would probably believe it's real. Know how to fake data.

[Via Snarkmarket]

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Agent Smith is Trinity's Evil Ex?

August 24th, 2010

Scott Pilgrim should have taken the blue pill.

[Via GromBlog]

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'The Box'

August 23rd, 2010

Simon's Cat in 'The Box'.

(Previously. And again.)


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April 16th, 2010

Robot Mouth, or new Doctor Who villain?


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Closing down

March 9th, 2010

YouTube Closes Down For The Night. Strangely soothing, that music…

[Via Qwghlm]

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Beatles 3000

December 16th, 2009

How will The Beatles be remembered in the year 3000?

[Via The Technium]

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